Ferguson Hears Plea for Calm From Michael Brown's Dad

Tensions Simmer as Ferguson Awaits Grand Jury's Verdict

ByABC News
November 21, 2014, 11:01 AM

FERGUSON, Missouri— -- The father of Michael Brown pleaded with protesters in Ferguson, Missouri, to remain peaceful when an anxiously awaited grand jury's decision is announced because "hurting others... is not the answer."

The plea by Michael Brown Sr. came as tensions simmered in the St. Louis suburb ahead of the grand jury ruling's in the Aug. 9 shooting death of his teenage son by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson.

The panel must decide whether or not to press criminal charges against Wilson. Protesters believe the officer should be charged with murder, while the officer contends he fired at the teenager in self defense.

At least two protesters were arrested overnight as protesters fought with police for a second night in a row. Authorities are braced for a new outbreak of protests and violence that last for weeks after the unarmed teenager was killed by at least six rounds fired by Wilson.

Brown's father, who has been a consistent voice for calm, issued a new public service announcement urging his son’s supporters to respond peacefully, regardless of the grand jury’s decision.

“Hurting others and destroying others is not the answer,” Brown says in the video. “No matter what the grand jury decides, I do not want my son’s death to be in vain. I want it to lead to incredible change, positive change, change that makes the St. Louis region better for everyone.”

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder also made a plea today for peace.

"History has ... shown us that the most successful and enduring movements for change are those that adhere to non-aggression and nonviolence,” Holder said in a video released by the Justice Department.

Wilson’s boss, Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson, called the situation in the city “tragic.”

“Nobody comes to work wanting to have it end that way,” Jackson said in an interview with ABC News. “It’s tragic for the family and for the community, and me as a chief to have that happen – the use of deadly force is a terrible, horrible thing.”

Jackson said Ferguson’s officers have participated in lots of training, with a focus on safety.

“We’re preparing for the worst, but we really hope the leadership coming out is going to try and keep it peaceful,” Jackson told ABC News.

Jackson, whose handling of the summer protests and the investigation has been harshly criticized, said he is not quitting. He has a mission.

“I want to see the department come through on the other side of this better, I want to see the community come out better and the nation. I think that’s going to happen,” he said.

A decision from the 12-person St. Louis County grand jury could come soon, though authorities have not publicized any specific date for an announcement. Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency and activated the National Guard earlier this week to help with security ahead of the decision.